Tag Archives: earthquakes

Links for Monday, July 27, 2015

(Royal Society Open Science)

  • This week in Anthropocene news: The International Congress on Stratigraphy (the geologists who have final say on new epochs and eras) met last week. One major point of discussion: the unprecedented outside pressure the group has encountered to name the Anthropocene as an official epoch. ICS chair Stanley Finney argued that the group should stay focused on the question of rocks, not politics, and that “it is not the job of the ICS to look at what humans are doing, or to predict what they will do in the future.”
  • Last week, in limits-to-the-Anthropocene news: we’ve already linked to the New Yorker’s doomsday piece about the earthquake that’s certain to hit the American Pacific Northwest.  Kathryn Schultz wrote that the quake will affect “some hundred and forty thousand square miles, including Seattle, Tacoma, Portland, Eugene, Salem (the capital city of Oregon), Olympia (the capital of Washington), and some seven million people. When the next full-margin rupture happens,” she continues, the region will have endured “the worst natural disaster in the history of North America.” Listen to WBUR’s interview with Schulz here and read Slate’s take here. The New Yorker has a tradition of great geology writing; the master is John McPhee, interviewed here on the publication of his tremendous Annals of the Former World. And for a real MBM (that’s “minute-by-minute”) of an earthquake, read McPhee’s book Assembling California.
  • Apparently the concrete dome constructed to store nuclear waste produced during the U.S.’s nuclear test programme at Bikini Atoll is leaking.
  • Ants, man: A joint research team at Cambridge and the University of Warwick have discovered that ants are, in fact, very clean animals. Turns out ants use the joint of their front leg as a cleaning brush off sorts in order to clear debris and pollen off of their antennas. In turn, these clean antennas help ants smell and locate all of those delicious crumbs in your kitchen.
  • Each era of computing technology has its own distinctive sounds (who could forget the clash of a dial-up modem?) Composer Matt Parker has set out on a mission to preserve some of these sounds and, as a consequence, the experiences of historical users. Parker has created an audio archive of 126 sounds made by the historic computers of Bletchley Park. He has even composed an album, “The Imitation Archive,” using these distinctive recordings.
  • What is the future of labor? The NYC-based collective Data & Society has published a series of working papers on the topic. Now, a work of short fiction from Gideon Lichfield on Quartz.
  • In this past weekend’s New York Times, Oliver Sacks offered some moving reflections on life, death, and his lifelong bond with the periodic table.
  • Rachel Laudan, author of Cuisine and Empire, on progress in the history of food.

Links for Thursday, July 16, 2015

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  • As we celebrate the successful New Horizons “fly-by” mission, a look back on the work of Clyde Tombaugh, the man who first “discovered” Pluto back in 1930. Like most scientific breakthroughs, Tombaugh’s discovery of Pluto was not a eureka moment, but the end product of a long and laborious research process. Using a “blink comparator” to flip between thousands of images taken with his telescope, Tombaugh had to pick out evidence of planetary motion among the masses of stars, asteroids, and space junk littering the photographs. Check out a simulation of Tombaugh’s research process here.
  • Erich Weidenhammer, curator of the University of Toronto Scientific Instruments Collection, used a 3D printer to recreate a 19th century psychological instrument designed to test color perception. An interesting reflection on what history can gain from the use of new technologies to study material culture, especially those instruments that do not survive in modern collections.
  • This week, Ernő Rubik turned seventy-one.  On Wednesday, his eponymous cube turns forty-one.
  • How not to remediate oil spills: lessons from Deepwater Horizon and the Exxon Valdez.
  • Diagnosing and addressing structural racism in the tech industry.
  • There’s a good chance that sometime in the next fifty years, an enormous earthquake and tsunami are likely to destroy the Pacific Northwest. Thanks to Kathryn Schulz, you can’t say you weren’t warned.